In 1979 political prisoners Tim Jenkin, Alex Moumbaris and Stephen Lee escaped from Pretoria Central Prison. This photograph shows the three with ANC representative Francis Meli at a press conference in London on 22 January 1980.
Poster for the March Month of Boycott, 1960. During the month Boycott Movement supporters all over Britain picketed shops and distributed leaflets asking shoppers not to buy South African goods. The boycott was supported by the Labour and Liberal Parties and the TUC. It was launched at a 15,000-strong rally in Trafalgar Square on 28 February.
The Nelson Mandela 70th birthday tribute concert was staged at Wembley Stadium, London on 11 June 1988. It called for freedom for Nelson Mandela, imprisoned since 1962. The concert was broadcast to over 60 countries, and made Mandela a household name in Britain and all over the world. After the concert 77 per cent of people in Britain knew who Mandela was and 70 per cent of them thought he should be released.
This is a collection of clips from the concert. Artists included Sting, Tracey Chapmen, Hugh Masekala, Peter Gabriel, Jerry Dammers, Whitney Houston, Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Simple Minds and Dire Straits.
‘Freedom for Nelson Mandela’ in Hyde Park, London on 17 July 1988. Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London to a rally attended by 250,000 people. The rally was the climax of the AAM’s ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign and the biggest ever anti-apartheid demonstration in Britain.
The Special AKA perform 'Free Nelson Mandela', the song written by Jerry Dammers that became an international hit. It was played in South Africa at football matches as a protest against the regime.
See Jerry's interview for more information about how he came to write it and its influence.
Julian Bahula’s Jazz Afrika, ‘Mandela’, written for the Festival of African Sounds at Alexandra Palace, north London, held on 17 July 1983 to celebrate Nelson Mandela‘s 65th birthday. Taken from ‘African Sounds for Mandela’, TS Afrika Records, 1983.
Jerry Dammers cites this as the inspiration for his hit song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.
In 1961 Nelson Mandela went into hiding and then left South Africa secretly to meet leaders of independent African countries. He returned to South Africa in July 1962. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and charged with incitement to strike. The Anti-Apartheid Movement organised protests and messages of support. In this telegram he thanks the AAM and says his message is intended as ‘a very firm, warm and hearty handshake from us’.
Caroline Motsoaledi was the wife of Andrew Motsoaledi, one of the accused in the Rivonia trial. She was held in detention and released without charge. This leaflet highlighted the situation of South African women who were arrested for questioning about their husband’s activities. Children were often left alone and uncared for when their parents were arrested.
The Sharpeville Six were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. One of the six was a woman, Theresa Ramashamola. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.
Women from the ANC Women’s Section and AAM Women’s Committee demonstrated in support of Theresa Ramashamola on 9 March, to mark International Women’s Day. Theresa was one of the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.
AAM supporters protest at a match played by a white South African tennis player at Wimbledon. On the right is Dorothy Robinson, Anti-Apartheid Movement Secretary in the early 1960s. Also in the photograph is AAM founder member Rosalynde Ainslie.
Trevor Huddleston speaking at the rally in Trafalgar Square to launch the March Month of Boycott Action. Right to left: ANC leader Tennyson Makiwane, Labour Party Leader Hugh Gaitskell and Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe. During the month, local councils all over Britain banned South African goods and supporters distributed leaflets to shoppers calling for a boycott. The month was organised by the Boycott Movement, set up in 1959.
Anti-apartheid supporters picketed around 250 branches of Barclays Bank all over Britain on 1 March 1978. The pickets were part of a March month of action against apartheid held to launch the UN International Anti-Apartheid Year. British-owned Barclays Bank was the biggest high street bank in South Africa. After a 16-year campaign by the AAM, Barclays withdrew from South Africa in 1986.
In the late 1970s after the Soweto uprising and the growth of independent trade unions in South Africa, there was a big increase in the number of British trade unions affiliated to the AAM. The main theme of this 1979 conference for British trade unionists was the campaign for sanctions against South Africa.
Four thousand people from nearly every parliamentary constituency in Britain lobbied Parliament on 27 February 1990 calling for a ‘fundamental change in British policy’ towards South Africa. The lobby was organised by the Southern Africa Coalition and was the biggest ever parliamentary lobby on Southern Africa.
Ernest Rodker was active in Stop the Seventy Tour and helped organise direct action against the Springbok rugby tour of Britain in 1969–70. He was arrested on several occasions and was part of a group that organised undercover action to disrupt the tour. He was very active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in its earliest years and in the anti-nuclear Committee of 100, as well as in the campaign against the Vietnam war.
In this clip Ernest describes his involvement in a protest at Twickenham as part of the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign.
Tim Oshodi joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement as a student activist in 1985. He was Chair of the London School of Economics AA Group and took part in an occupation of the LSE to pressure it to disinvest from South Africa. He was a researcher for the AAM's disinvestment campaign, and a member of the AAM National and Black Solidarity Committees. He was a founding member of Friends of Simukai, an group that worked in solidarity with freedom fighters in Zimbabwe. Tim is currently involved in solidarity work with South African based housing activists.
In this clip he describes how media coverage and interpretation of ‘apartheid’ and ‘anti-apartheid’ changed over time.
Simon Korner was Secretary and then Chair of Hackney AA Group from about 1986 to 1994. The group organised a weekly stall outside Sainsbury’s in Dalston and a regular picket of the local Shell garage in Clapton. It put on major fundraising shows at the Hackney Empire, featuring artists like Jack Dee, Eddie Izzard and the Pogues. Simon was a member of the London Anti-Apartheid Committee, and organised political dayschools and a mass picket of Shell HQ.
In this clip he describes the Hackney Turkish community’s support for anti-apartheid campaigns.
Jerry Dammers formed the Specials in Coventry in 1977. He was an anti-apartheid activist from his school days, and in 1986 founded Artists Against Apartheid to involve musicians in anti-apartheid campaigns and promote the cultural boycott of South Africa. He wrote the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, which became an international hit and helped raise awareness of the situation of Nelson Mandela and political prisoners in South Africa.
In this clip he taks about how he came to write ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.
In March 1960 the newly formed South Africa Boycott Movement held a Month of Boycott Action. It was launched at a march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square. At the head of the march were ANC leader Tennyson Makiwane, Trevor Huddleston, Labour Party Leader Hugh Gaitskell and Dennis Phombeah of the London-based Committee of African Organisations. During the month, local councils all over Britain banned South African goods and supporters distributed leaflets to shoppers calling for a boycott.